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Build Successful Digital Projects

The 5 key points that Successful Digital Projects have in common

Many years have passed since IT projects became a priority within the organisations all around the world. In the beginning though, this kind of projects were reserved for big companies, having the right budget and being able to purchase various systems and bring consultants in house. Smaller companies started to develop solutions by themselves and soon realized that it was difficult to keep developing inhouse software.

As time goes by and the foundation of technology is becoming more like a commodity (Infrastructure, open source tools, SaaS, etc.) and as people gain access to better internet services, the innovation is at all times high.

The velocity with which IT is evolving is impressive and there is no turning back. With the ease of implementing new software, more industries are realizing that it is time to engage on digital projects and are aware they need to do something but does not know where to start.

Many times companies, start their digital projects in the most chaotic way possible, and probably have gone through the following pains:

· Try to convince upper management that technology will help the company. This could take several months and even years.

· Squeeze the budget from all over the company to find yourself a budget to start the project.

· You normally have to go with outside providers (as your company may just have some IT maintenance guys)

· You receive quotes that are tens of times different from each other. This can be because you are not experienced stating the requirements and also because normally providers tend to go straight to offer a solution rather to understand the problem, the needs and particular environment of your company.

· You get stuck in the decision process because you don’t have the ability to identify which proposal may be better from an IT strategic point of view (This is normal, CTO’s and CIO’s are new roles in the companies and chances are that you haven’t been able to develop those skills yet).

This phenomenon is accentuated because we are experiencing a major shift in mid size companies where the old way is encountering the new one. And Innovation efforts are being triggered and sometimes even sponsored by new generations.

Maybe you are fortunate and your company already has some sort of IT capacity to implement projects. In this scenario it is extremely appealing to take on Digital Projects yourself. But as I discussed in an earlier post (Surviving The Siege – How Midsize Businesses Can Overcome Disruption In Ultra-Competitive Markets) one of the problems is that your team needs to operate the business and maintain it so sometimes there is no room for innovation. But let’s say for arguments sake, that you actually have an available team to take on the project. In this scenario and knowing that it has never been easier to start a software development project, due to modern tools, and all the information and training available. Is as easy to get lost in the process without the right guidance.

After many years of working with companies all sizes and within various industries, we have identified something that we call the connective thread in all successful digital projects. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward”. 

Well, we’ve done our homework and here you have the 5 key aspects we have studied to be the predominant reasons for a successful IT project.

1

Assume that once your company jumps in a Digital Project, you are now an IT company and you have to think like one.

The first step is realizing that once going digital, you have to think as an IT company, and realize that IT is not a support area within the organisation anymore, but a strategic arm to develop the solutions you need.
This is a profound change and it certainly drives the digital transformation mindset. I always discuss with my potential clients the difference of just digitalizing their company or bringing digital transformation. If you just try to digitalize a process, but the only thing you do is instead using paper now using a computer, then you will see this solution as a burden and IT will be your support area.
If on the other hand you embrace change and understand that by adding technology to your company, you will have to adapt and evolve your business to harness the benefits of technology, then you will automatically see the IT area of your company as a strategic partner.
Do this and bring innovation through IT to your company will be a breeze.

2

IT Projects are continuous and thus need a dedicated budget.

The time to have a one time investment for your software is gone! If you are really thinking into evolving your organisation through technology you have to assign a specific and steady budget for your project. This is recommended for several reasons:
- If you have very limited budget, at the moment you ran out of gas, the project will die.
- You don’t need a big budget (although it won’t do any harm if yoy manage to get one), the important thing is to have a steady supply to keep the project running, changes will come for certain and you have to be prepared for that.
- The environment will inevitably change, so you will have to evolve with it, no matter how well planned you have your project.
So, set apart a certain amount of money to keep things running. Once you start seeing results (as littler as they may be) then your stakeholers will be willing to invest a little bit more.

3

Quick Wins & Fail Fast

This is crucial if you want to give a good impression and get all the endorsement your project needs. If you get some quick wins, your stakeholders will be sure that they supported a good idea. This will release a lot of the pressure you have when going for innovation.
Quick win is to chose the least resistance path, to actually achieve success. It does not matter if it is little success, as long as the organisations feel your are moving forward you’ll do fine.
On the other hand we have the Fail Fast strategy, this means that as soon as you identify errors or misconceptions, the cheaper it will be to learn. Don’t hesitate, there is a high probability that you will have some of these while starting, but the important thing is to realize it fast.
The example I can think of, is let´s say you decided to implement a new CRM that will change the operation. Let’s suppose that you want to implement an already existing solution, you will need quite some time to get thins running. If you come one day with the user, and it results that the tool is not what he expected, you may have thrown several months of effort. If on the other hand, your team develops a new interface, that tackles one problem and it does it very fast, then you can present your solution to the stakeholder and if it is NOT well received, you may loose just a couple of days worth of work.

4

Agility and Ability to adapt

This is easier said that done. Although there are various trending strategies to deliver solutions in an agile way, the reality is that little people embrace their benefits. For this aspect, there is also a lot of mind set changing to do. Change will come, and there is nothing you can do to prevent that. So the best thing is to train and be prepared to respond to change.
For this to be successful, you have to also manage a good communication plan with your sponsors and stakeholders and manage expectations.

5

Get the help from an expert in IT projects implementations

Specially if they have experience working with startups, as these are the most dynamic business that really understand how technology work nowadays.

Once you start realizing the later, your life and expectations upon your digital projects will be much easier. Just remember that once you go digital you will be driving in the fast lane, you will experience a lot of changes, if you have the right partner, this will be easier. Cheers!

JP
CEO, Technogi Limited

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